Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Folding Bike Time Trial - The Char Wallah Challenge

This is what can happen if you engage in a bit of light hearted social media banter with some friends from your cycling club.

Brompton recently held their 2015 World Championships in London and as a new Brompton owner this year, I entered. My run of luck with balloted events (see Ride London, London Marathon etc etc) continued and I didn't get a place.
This coincided with a bit of banter between friends on the subject of folding bike races and we ended up running our own event.
Taking the dress code from the Brompton World Champs, opening the entry to any folder or collapsible with wheels smaller than 24" and adapting the format to a simple 7.1 mile time trial on a well used local course we had an event on our hands.

The final piece, and the bit that I think makes this race unique, is finishing it off by making a cup of tea.

With riders being friends from Colchester Rovers, Manningtree Wheelers, Amis Velo RT and Re-Cycle Colchester there was no entry fee, although voluntary donations were left for Re-Cycle to help with their work in providing serviceable bikes to communities in Africa where they can make a massive difference

At the start, riders set off at one minute intervals. They were counted down by the starter and at that point they were able to unfold and set off. Everything required to make a cup of tea had to be carried on the 7.1 mile lap of the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race circuit.

On completion of the lap, riders refolded their machines and brewed up, the finishing time taken at the moment a cuppa was presented to the timekeeper.

What made this race special? It was pure fun. All the competitors hurt themselves as much they would have done in any other event but I have never seen quite so many smiles from spectators, officials and participants at any other bike race. 

The variety of bikes surprised me - from the smallest wheeled machine, Ian Fox's Carry Me to Kenny Baker's Moulton Stowaway (the hardest bike to assemble) there were also bikes from Brompton, Dahon, Apollo and Dawes

I suspect we may have a bigger field if we repeat this next year...

All photos pinched from the club Facebook page - taken by Lois Mansel-Thomas, Carol Fox, Kevin Ollett, Christopher Douglas and Julie Clayton

Our winner - Graham Collins of Manningtree Wheelers gets aero

Brew time

Super small wheeled Carry Me

Foxy poses

The smile of a champion

Perfect position

The catch

Old school - kelly kettle

Moulton stowaway - not the fastest 'unfold'

Moulton on the move

Ride it like you stole it

Lanterne Rouge, Malcolm Smith brews up in a tin

Fast Moulton

Results time

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


What's in yours?

Over the weekend I spent a day with friends from a company with whom I do a lot of business.

At the end of the month they are riding from London to Paris to raise money for charity.

The aim of this get together was to provide an introduction to group
riding - preparation, awareness, communication, navigation etc. to try and minimise the issues they'll face over the 3 days of their ride

As you would expect, levels of experience and quality of equipment varied considerably.

One common factor in this kind of endeavour is the borrowed bike.
Generally, but not always, the bike's availability to be lent out
means that it isn't being used and may not have seen the light of day for sometime.
A rustic repair

To cut a very long story short, one rider (now universally known as
Banger) experienced a series of blowouts due to a perished sidewall
and corroded, detached bead.

It got to the point where I had to delve into the bottom of the bag
labelled desperate innovation and used old tyre, gaffer tape and cable ties to get him through the last 10 miles. Another experienced rider provided the tape while the rest of the kit came out of my saddlebag.

A number of people have been surprised I had cable ties in my bag. I am surprised they are surprised -  which made me realise saddlebag contents, beyond the obvious basics, are very personal and built up over years of bad experience.

With this in mind, I thought it useful to share the contents of my
bag. Following the experience of this weekend, I will be adding a
small roll of gaffer tape to this list.

Tyre lever
Inner tubes
Old sunglasses bag to store the tubes
CO2 inflator
2 x CO2 cartridges
2 x lengths of old tyre rubber
Cable ties
Topeak multitool- I like the Allen keys on this one
Knog multitool - I like the chaintool and bottle opener on this one
15mm spanner for single/fixed issues
2 x small Victorinox Swiss Army knives (I didn't realise there were
two until I emptied the bag)

A short length of chain
Connex quicklink (in an old patch box)

And it all fits in a large Topeak saddlebag. This bag has definitely seen better days and needs to be replaced before I start spreading the contents of my bag around the lanes of Essex. If I remember correctly,
it was a Christmas present in 2009 so it hasn't done badly...